One of the most terrifying decisions I ever had to face was choosing a college. For the first time in my life, my path wasn’t laid out for me. If I didn’t take action, September would find me sitting in my mother’s living room, watching sitcoms. 70’s sitcoms. Enough Eight is Enough, already.
Complicating the decision was the fact that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’d ruled out medical school (eight years was just too long for me), but still had an interest in the health field.
Out of the blue, I received a letter from a school in Virginia offering me a full scholarship for writing. One of my poems won an award, and on that basis, this school was recruiting me.
Flattering. But I had no interest in writing.
For one thing, I hated it. Writing is just plain hard work.
And I didn’t see any money in it. Not that I was driven by wealth, but the life of a starving artist was not for me.
My parents, who came of age during the depression, were all about picking something practical.
Which is why, six years later, I earned a master’s degree in hospital administration.
The health field was good to me, and was the springboard for my adventures in Russia and beyond. I have no regrets.
Now, years later, I’m writing.
I think back to the scholarship I refused. What an idiot I was. I could have taken that school up on the deal, and after a year or two, changed majors to something else. Or maybe I would have decided to stay with the writing. Either way, I wouldn’t have had to take out as many loans to pay for my education.
But I was swayed by the advice and opinions of people around me. I danced to their tune and sang their songs.
In the meantime, I ignored a talent I had. For many years, I used it only for memos and business plans.
I also had a perception that “writers” wrote either literary fiction or trash. My feeling is that whatever I do, I want to do well. Which leaves trash out.
And I know I could never write the flowery prose I associate with literary writers.
That I could carve my own way and write what I wanted to write didn’t occur to me.
Maybe growing older has given me confidence. Maybe I was just oblivious to my options. Taking that scholarship just might have solved both of these years ago. Duh.
But that doesn’t matter. The song I sang at seventeen isn’t the tune I danced to in my thirties. Now I’ve found a new one, one that uses my talent in ways I never thought I’d explore.
And maybe, you might want to find a new dance. Just make it yours.